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Building a Violin - One Step at a Time

December 14, 2012 at 3:02 AM

I am documenting the construction of my 100th instrument. Included will be a brief description as well as photos of the various steps. Stay tuned!

I selected the wood that I will use in my 100th instrument! A one piece European Maple back and a European Maple neck. The very fine grained Engelman Spruce for the top I harvested in Sept. 1995 above 6000 ft. from here in Oregon. There is sufficient maple in the back to provide matching ribs. I'm looking forward to building this violin. It has been a long time coming! I will be updating regularly to show the progress. On we go.........

Violin #100 – today's progress.
1.Band saw excessive wood from the maple back.
2.Cut ribs with band saw from back maple.
3.Lightly glue spruce end blocks and corner blocks to inside mold.
4.Use a plane to finish the center joint in the spruce top.
5.Glue and clamp book matched spruce top.
6.Use heat and moisture to shape C-bout ribs.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Transfer shape of corner blocks from template.
2.Band saw corner blocks.
3.Finish corner block profile with file.
4.Glue and clamp c-bout rib.
5.A series of holes are drilled to the height of the arching
from a topographical map.
6.The spruce top is roughed to shape with planes.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Upper and lower bout ribs are glued and clamped in place.
2.Spruce linings are formed and ready for assembly.
3.Linings are glued and clamped.
4.Additional wedges are glued to the maple neck block to facilitate squaring up the block.
5.A template is used to transfer the neck/scroll outline.
6.Planes are used to rough out the maple back.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Trim the linings with a sharp knife.
2.Scrape the ribs.
3.Drill the peg pilot holes in the maple neck block.
4.Band saw the scroll profile.
5.The neck so far.........

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Trim the corner to here.
2.The finished rib garland is removed from the inside mold.
3.The outside profile of the top and overhang are established from the ribs.
4.The corner shape is sketched. I think that a corner that suggests trumpeting is elegant.
5.The outside profile of the spruce top is cut on the band saw.
6.The profile of the top is nearly finished to size with a file.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1. The edge thickness of the spruce top is cut with an end mill in a drill press. Stradivari would have used this method if it existed back in the day... :-)
2. The fingertips are sensitive to imperfections and irregularities in the outside edge of the top. Any imperfections will be mirrored in the purfling. Now is the time to make this perfect.
3. The edge thickness gracefully increases at the corners – think a ski jump.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Remove the saw marks from the scroll profile with a file.
2.Layout the center line of the neck/scroll.
3.Laying out the chin.
4.Sawing the waste wood at the peg box with band saw.
5.Saw excess scroll wood.
6.Pare wood away with chisel.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Some distractions have come up that is not allowing me to update progress every day. Here is the latest photo.
A chamfer is carved to the outline of the pegbox and scroll. This will be a useful visual cue when finishing the pegbox cheeks as well as the rest of the scroll.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Cutting the purfling groove with a single pointed cutter.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
The purfling groove wood is chipped out.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
The wood c-bout purfling is bent with heat and moisture.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.A scalpel is used to finish off the c-bout purfling groove transition to the bee sting.
2.The purfling bee sting miter is cut.
3.The purfling is ready to be glued in. Any slight imperfections between the width of the purfling and the purfling groove will disappear as the spruce swells around the purfling when glued.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Pictured are the two upper corners of the top prior to completing the edge work.
A point of artistry..........
Mass production produces sameness. Making one at a time lends itself to artistry. My goal when creating the corners of a violin is to create similarities of proportion, form, and gesture. I don't labor to make the corners identical.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.The concave surface above the purfling is shaped with the Channel Scraper Tool.
2.The business end of the Channel Scraper Tool.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Finish carving the spruce top with a finger plane.
2.The top is ready to be scraped.
3.Scraping removes the planing/carving marks as well as provides a smooth surface finish. Scraping can also correct imperfections in the arching.
4.The outside of the top is finished and ready to rough out the inside of the plate.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Drill down to approximately 1mm of the finished thickness in the spruce top. Extra thickness is allowed to “tune” the plate.
2.The inside of the top is roughed out with a finger plane to the depth of the previously drilled holes.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.The f-hole shape is transferred to the top.
2.A divider is used to score the grain to prevent the spruce from chipping when drilled.
3.The lower hole of the f-hole is drilled.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Cutting the f-hole with a scroll saw. I leave plenty of wood for finishing with a knife.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
The f-hole is finished with a knife. A graceful flowing form is the objective.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Fluting the f-holes with a finger plane. The fluting will be finished with a scraper. The f-hole fluting adds a detail of sculpture to the violin top.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
The spruce top is finished on the outside. The inside is now finished to the desired thickness (more on this in a couple days). The photo shows the contour of the inside of the top being transferred to the 5.5 mm thick spruce bass bar. Next I will saw the bass bar to the line and fit the bar to the top with a more exacting method.

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